Check it Out: Luxury Shopping Online (Shhh! Keep It a Secret)
But don't look for them on search engines. These sites apparently shield themselves from spiders to add to their exclusivity. What's more, affluent brands aren't interested in working with these sites if the heavily discounted merchandise they hope to sell — because it didn't sell elsewhere — pops up in response to online searches for their brands. Too tacky.
Unique visits to these sites are growing, according to several published reports. One reported that Gilt.com, which was launched in 2007 by two Harvard Business School graduates, has more than 1.4 million members and expects revenue of $400 million next year.
The real draw appears to be the idea that members are "in the know."
"Websites like Rue La La and Gilt have proven to be popular because they offer steep discounts on luxury products, which have the perception of rarely being on sale," observes Peter Cobb, co-founder and senior vice president of marketing of eBags, who brought the sites to my attention. "In the recent challenging economic climate, retail as usual will not work. These business models have captured the attention of women shoppers who still love to shop but need to feel they are getting a steal."
Speaking of which, I have to run and check out one of the sites — a sale is about to end!